Wednesday, April 14, 2010

My Father In Law Is An Asshole, er Attorney! has this wonderful story of the pissed off ex-father-in-law who hs filed suit agasint his former son-in-law for cheating on his daughter.

The father-in-law, Chicago-area attorney Carey M. Stein sued Stephen Levy on the theory that Stein paid $75,000 towards the wedding's costs in reliance on the representation by Levy that Levy would not cheat on Stein's daughter during their wedding.  Unfortunately the marriage lasted 17 months after Levy had "unprotected sex" with someone not his wife, according to the great account at

So what's Levy's defense?  Well, how about-->my father-in-law is a controlling asshole. That and 'Ol dad, like to file frivolous lawsuits, since this doesn't sound like a valid contract, or an enforceable contract since it wasn't quite reduced to a writing.  On.point does a nice job of teasing out the legal issues, particularly the applicability of the "statute of frauds."   

Essentially, the statute of frauds holds that a contract to cover a period in excess of one year for completion, e.g. like a long faithful and fruitful marriage--must be in writing.  And they are, but in-laws are not parties to these contracts, and beneficiaries only in the most indirect way,  The better analogy is covered at where employment contracts are contrasted with Stein v. Levy

In most states absent an employment contract you are an "at will" employee which means either you or your employer may sever the realtionship at any time, for any reason, or no reason, unless protected by law, for instance civil rights or gender discrimination.  Frequently an argument is made that a oral contract was entered into for employment in perpetuity.  This is a rotten situation for people who get screwed because as you can imagine prospective employees make all sorts of decisions about their lives based on a job offers. and these ridiculous sorts of offers do get made.

Look at how untenable the situation is where someone takes the offer of a lifetime job.  The new employee quits the job they have, they make a geographic move away from family and friends, then the job sours quickly.  The employee suffers real damages when in reliance decisions and major life alteriding changes were made based on the job. 

But, from the employer's perspective how do you operate a business with an awful labor fit--the law has always held that in these situations, respective rights need to be in writing if the contract period is anticipated to last longer than a year.  Absent a written contract,  rights you think you have are unenforceable.   In the real world this rule is a necessary economic protocol allowing the free flow of commerce and avoiding indentured servitude. 

Now back to the Stein v. Levy litigation, I'm guessing that ex-dad-in-law is the sort of character to have created one or two professional enemies along the way.  Maybe the ex-son-in-law, Mr. Levy, will pick up some free legal advice and help in dealing with this frivilous lawsuit,.  He may even pick up a little pocket change from the Stein's on the way out of the reception hall.  All involved sound like dicks.



  1. Cary's a real winner. IF you do some research, you'll find he once represented a former Hartmarx employee against Hartmarx. Too bad that Cary was, at one point, Hartmarx' general counsel. Needless to say, he was disqualified from the case.

  2. Carey Stein: Ju-da Ju-da ah ah